A prima donna thanks to its insistence on marginal climates, pinot noir is the heartbreak grape. While cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay were strutting their stuff in the New World, pinot noir's dainty feet remained planted in a narrow strip of Burgundy, running from Dijon through Beaune to the Côte Chalonnaise. But today the lure of its voluptuous flesh and sweet perfume is conquering growers and converting consumers around the globe.
Palataia is so-called because this German, yes German, pinot noir hails from the Palatinate but it could just as easily mean 'palatable'. That's what the 2011 Palataia Pinot Noir, Pfalz, £8.99, Marks & Spencer, is: a perfumed red with a juicy, cherryish quality. Italy has the odd bright spot thanks to the high-altitude Alto Adige, where the 2009 Franz Haas Pinot Nero, £23, Highbury Vintners (020-7226 1347), displays smoky sun-dried tomato notes and a delicately spiced palate with rose petal, and raspberry fruit.
A slow starter, Chile's improving pinot noirs are mostly based on cool spots. The perfume and bright berry fruit of Viña Leyda's 2010 Secano Estate Maiten Vineyard Block 1 Pinot Noir, £12.99, Marks & Spencer, owes its refreshing aftertaste to its proximity to the Pacific. As, indeed, does Maycas's smoky, cherry-strawberryish 2010 Limarí Valley
Reserva Especial Pinot Noir, £11.95, The Wine Society (thewinesociety.com).
Argentina's best pinot noir is rooted in Patagonia, where the 2010 Bodega Chacra Pinot Noir, £18.95, Lea & Sandeman (020-7244 0522), expresses Río Negro's scent, texture and bright mulberry-cherryish purity. New Zealand's serious pinot noir class is ubiquitous with South Island's Canterbury one of the most impressive new spots, judging by the fine, bright, cherry-spicy 2009 Waipara Black Estate Pinot Noir, £26.75, Lea & Sandeman.
Oregon has become of America's pinot noir strongholds. The 2009 Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, £27, Oddbins, is Burgundian in style with a fine, delicate raspberryish perfume and plenty of opulent mulberry fruit.
Successfully aping Burgundy in the cool of the Pyrenean hills, GérardBertrand's 2010 Domaine de l'Aigle Pinot Noir, £9.99, Majestic, is refreshingly fragrant with a raspberryish aftertaste. Back where it all started, Burgundy is taking on the upstarts with such as the 2009 Antonin Rodet Givry Rouge, £13.99, Majestic, a modern example of the style combining berry fruit, oak spice and savoury freshness in a seamless whole.
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